Tuesday, 22 August 2017

More stuff that I drank while in Berlin

The title says it all.

There aren't even any ones Dolores drank this year. Because she didn't drink any beer in our hotel room. Only wine. What's the world coming to?

You may notice some common themes: beers from the south (Bavaria and Baden Württemberg) and lots of Bocks. I do love me some alcoholey goodness. And the occasional IPA. Purely for research purposes, you understand.

Monday, 21 August 2017

My brilliant new recipe book

I've a new recipe book out. It's dead good. It really is. Don't forget to pick up your copy.

It has over 200 recipes. Loads of intersting stuff. Lagers, North American things.

Please buy it. It's dead good. Andrew is about to go to University and Alexei has run out of vodka.


Baldo there we go

Dave wakes me with a cup of tea at around ten. I’m not feeling that bad, considering, now I recall the Lagavullin.

The kids look pretty rough when they come downstairs. Andrew just lies on the settee, staring into space. Alexei looks a bit livelier.

“Fancy a Red Barrel, Lexie.”


“I’ll take that as a maybe.”

“It’s a no, dad.”

I can’t get anything to come out of the barrel. So I have one of the unlabelled rye beers Henry brought.

Andrew isn’t up to a bacon sandwich. Just as well, as there’s only enough bacon for two.

“How do you want your bacon, Lexie? Black or really black.”

“Honestly dad can you shut up with that black shit. It isn’t funny.”

David is cooking a traditional Sunday lunch: jerk pork.  Thankfully only using scotch bonnet peppers, not the insanity pepper the kids tried yesterday.

Henry arrives around one and helps me chock up the barrel. Brilliant! Another pint of Red Barrel for me.

Alexei has livened up a bit and gets himself a pint as well.

“Dare of the hog, Alexei?” Alexei doesn’t get what he means.

The meal is dead traditional: jerk pork, rice and peas, roast parsnips and salad. Traditionally Jamaican, I mean. Though the last two seem to have wandered into the wrong party. The pork is pretty hot, as I like it. The kids don’t seem to mind. Then again, they were chewing insanity pepper yesterday. This probably tastes pretty mild to them.

We arranged to see Henry and Dexter in the Cock Inn after lunch. Sorry, Chesters after lunch. Why do they change pub names?

When we arrive Henry and Dexter are sitting outside with pints.

“Do you want another?” I ask politely.

“I’ll have another Sharp’s Atlantic.” Dexter replies. Henry has to pass, as he’s driving.

The Atlantic runs out after the first pull. Leaving Doom Bar as the only cask choice. That won’t bother the kids, as they’re both on the cider again. The food seems to have livened them up a bit.

I can only stay for a couple. We’ve a taxi booked for 17:00.

We haven’t bothered turning up that early. Only an hour or so before boarding. It’s a pretty small airport. And not many people are around.

I get myself a couple of whiskies during the flight. Just to round off the holiday. The kids seem to have enjoyed themselves. And why wouldn’t they, with all the free beer and cider they got?

72 Main St,
Newark NG24 3LL.
+44 1636 703606

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Cat Asylum here we come

I rise at nine, wondering where my cup of tea is.

Ah, that’s the answer. Dave isn’t up yet. That’s a bit of a bummer. I fancy a cup of tea. I make do with a pint of Red Barrel instead. It’s only 3.7% ABV so perfectly fine as a breakfast beer.

I try to get David’s telly to work while I’m waiting for everyone to get up. It’s harder than it sounds. He has multiple satellite and cable boxes. A bit of fiddling does produce a picture. I think just through the TV itself.

The kids come down and I get them to help with the television. They manage to get the cable working. Brilliant. Now we can put the Hitler channel on. Which is what the kids do.

Dave finally drags his lazy arse downstairs and makes us some tea. The kids are very keen on tea, too. Must be their English genes. Though Dolores is quite partial to a cuppa as well. I fire up the grill and get the bacon cooking.

“How black do you want your bacon, Lexie.”

“Not black at all.”

“Just a little bit black, then?”

“No, not black, dad. Can you be serious for a minute.”

“How black do you want your bacon, Andrew.”

“Shut up about the black shit, dad.”

“Someone’s a Mr. Grumpy Trousers this morning.”

“Just make my sandwich, dad.”

My own bacon I cook a lovely shade of crispy golden black. Just how I like it.

Dave puts on a French quiz show. He’s got himself a French satellite box. It’s so he can keep up his French. Not a bad idea. I’d do it myself if I had any arsing left in me.

Henry is supposed to come and pick us up at 11:30. I’m amazed when the doorbell rings at 11:29.

“Henry’s on time, for once.”

Except he isn’t. It’s my sister Margaret.

I mention our encounter with the teenage barman in Spoons. “He looks about fourteen”, I say.

Margaret knows him, as she also frequents Spoon. “He’s 21.”

“You what?”

“I know. I thought he was still at school, too. He wouldn’t be much use if things kicked off. Though the barmaids can sort people out. The one’s a big lass.”

What an exotic place Newark is. So much fun. If you don’t have to live there.

Henry rings to say he’s had to something vague connected with the brewery. More likely he’s been sat on his arse listening to Radio 4. The plan is now to get here at 13:30. I fetch myself another pint of Red Barrel.

“Fancy a beer, lads?”

“It’s a bit early for me.” Andrew replies.

“But it’s almost twelve.”

“Still early for me.”

That’s true. Before he had a job he was rarely out of bed in the morning.

I while away the time waiting for Henry with more Red Barrel. Alexei joins me after a while.

I decide to explain a little about the beer he’s drinking. “It’s the classic Evil Keg beer. Do you know what that means?”

“No. And I don’t care. Can you let me drink my beer in peace, dad?”

I persist “Evil Keg is . . . . “

“Daaad, I told you. I don’t care. Just shut up about that crap”

Amazingly, Henry actually tuns up approximately on time. It’s Andrew’s turn to ride in the back. At least it’s not mine. My poor old bones aren’t up to that sort of thing. As I keep telling the kids.

Henry’s lucky to have a house with several sizeable outbuildings. Including an old barn, which now houses his brewery. I’m surprised how neat and tidy it all his. With the usual shiny things shining shiningly. Not much more you can say about them, really.

While we’re admiring the shiny things, Phil Dale and his wife Annick turn up with a dog and two chickens. I can’t have seen them for 30 years. They also live in Collingham.

The chickens aren’t live chickens, but roasted ones. I thought we’d just come to take a look at the brewery. It seems like there’s going to be some sort of party. That’s confirmed when Baz, his builder and brewing assistant, arrives accompanied by his girlfriend. Then Spook, someone else I haven’t seen for decades.

Henry has a couple of barrels set up in his tasting room. Which is half of the old plough-making workshop. Where there are a variety of chairs and settees, in various state of dilapidation. The building is full of, er, old crap. Weird old tools, handmade work benches and lots of stuff I can’t recognise.  Rustic, you might call it, if you were being kind.

Lexie is keen to see Henry’s cock. Sorry, that’s come across badly. I mean the feathered type of cock, which is in one of the many outbuildings. It’s pretty aggressive and scary. Not sure why Henry has it, given he’s a vegetarian.

Steve, a former colleague of Henry from his teaching days, turns up with some sort of insanity pepper. 2.5 million scovilles. He persuades Andrew to eat a little piece.

“It’s not that bad,” he says at first. It doesn’t last long. Soon he gasping for milk. It’s a while before the sweating subsides.

Amazingly, Alexei gives it a try, too. With exactly the same effect. Me? I’m not daft enough to let a pepper like that anywhere near my mouth.

One of the casks contains William Younger 80/-. My recipe, obviously. It’s pretty nice, though so heavily conditioned it’s hard to pour a full pint. Lexie struggles with the tap and gets beer  all over the floor. Not to worry. It’s not as if it will add substantially to the mess.

“You’ve got lovely plums, Henry.” I remark. The fruit I mean. Which he does. Really tasty ones. “You should pick them before they fall off and rot.”

He doesn’t seem moved to action. “Get yourself a still, then it doesn’t matter if your fruit gets overripe.”

Henry replies: “I’ve got some home-made spirit from Portugal. Do you fancy trying it? I’ll warn you it’s a bit rough.”

This is the point where things start getting out of hand.

“It’s not that rough. I’ve had much worse. Jonge Jenever is like drinking paintstripper.”

“I think I’ve still got some Lagavullin somewhere.”

Henry returns with a bottle of Lagavullin, which is about a quarter full. I do love me Lagavullin.

Things then get blurry. A bit like this photo.

We adjourn to Phil and Annick’s place. Which has a garden just slightly smaller than Wales. We drink more beer.

At some point we take a taxi back to Dave’s. Not that I can really remember it. Funnily enough, I have no trouble falling asleep. Let’s see what state the kids are in tomorrow.

Cat Asylum

Saturday, 19 August 2017

In case you'd forgotten

I've a new recipe book out:

It has over 200 recipes. Loads of intersting stuff. Lagers, North American things.

Please buy it. It's dead good. And Andrew is about to go to University.


Let’s brew 1919 Barclay Perkins X

I’m really enjoying this exercise in seeing the direct impact of government interference in the brewing industry.

Even though hostilities had ceased three months earlier, there were still heavy restrictions on brewing. These were gradually lifted in a series of steps.  Though note that beer duty was still increasing. 70s per standard barrel was about ten times the pre-war rate. It was the high rate of tax, which made beer more expensive, that stopped a return to pre-war gravities.

April 1 1919: Beer duty raised to 70s. Statutory barrelage increased by 50 per cent., and gravity raised to 1040º in Great Britain. Special charge of 25s. per barrel for munition beer abolished as from April 30 1919.
Source: "The Brewers' Almanack 1928" pages 100 - 101.

So what did Barclay Perkins do when the rules changed? They brought back X Ale. Though they continued to brew Ale 4d, which was part-gyled with this beer.

Easing of supply problems is evidenced by the return of flaked maize. As it needed to be imported, it was unavailable in the later war years. What hasn’t changed is the high percentage of coloured malt, almost 15% of the grist.

If that tiny amount of black malt looks pointless, I’ll point out that it was added to the copper and boiled. Which presumably draws out more colour than mashing.

This beer isn’t a million miles away from a modern Mild.

1919 Barclay Perkins X
pale malt 4.75 lb 62.09%
brown malt 0.33 lb 4.31%
amber malt 0.75 lb 9.80%
roast barley 0.05 lb 0.65%
flaked maize 0.75 lb 9.80%
no. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 13.07%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.02 lb 0.26%
Fuggles 75 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 45 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 20 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1036.5
FG 1009
ABV 3.64
Apparent attenuation 75.34%
IBU 17
SRM 13
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 18 August 2017

Yet another book

Crazy, I know. Yet another one. Another bloody book.

Me, swanning around, drinking beer, trying to flog my other Scottish book. Think it's all getting too recursive? Well so do I.

Lovely cover image from Alexei again.

Wetherspoons here we come

I’m awoken by my brother David bringing me a cup of tea before he leaves for work. Then get back to some heavy-duty dozing.

I finally drag myself out of bed at 10. No sign of the kids. So I get myself a pint of Red Barrel while I wait for them to get their sorry arses in gear.

When they come down, I ask: “What do you want for breakfast?”

“Is there bacon, dad?” Alexei asks.

“Of course there is. Uncle David knew you were coming.”

“I’ll have a bacon sandwich, too.” Andrew replies, before I even have time to ask him. Three bacon sandwiches it is, then.

Henry arrives a little later in his fancy new van. Definitely an improvement on his crappy old one.  He says he’ll give us a lift into town. There are only three seats in the cab, so Alexei has to jump in the back with a barrel and some other junk. Somehow Henry has managed to get it as dirty inside as his old van.

He drops us off in front of the Corn Exchange and tells us he’ll see us later in Wetherspoons.

As we’re walking down Stodman Street, I pause to take a snap of The Woolpack, sorry, the Prince Rupert. The kids are now 20 metres in front of me. So I can see the reaction of the youths hanging around outside the tattoo parlour. They point, mouths open, at the two giants. I’ve forgotten how much shorter people are in Britain.

Wetherspoons is pretty full. Mostly with pensioners: old blokes drinking John Smiths smooth, grannies drinking tea. We struggle to find a seat. I need space to set up my laptop, seeing as David has no wifi in his house. It’s like going back to the Dark Ages. Just without the violence. And the plague.

The kids have both gone for cider again. I have some cask beer or other. The barman is about five foot tall and looks about fourteen. So it’s a bit odd when he asks the boys for id. They hand him their verblijfsvergunnings and he looks at them bemusedly. After a minute or so he asks:

“Where’s the birthdate?”

“On the back.” Andrew points out.

Teenage barman goes off to consult a more senior member of staff about the id.

“They won’t have any idea what it is.” Andrew says.

“They probably think it’s a driving licence.”

Our junior barman returns and serves us. Whew! Alexei would have been pissed off at missing his first pint in Spoons.

My pint, Nottingham Brewery Sir John Special, has a slightly strange aftertaste. Something not 100% right there.

Once we’ve moved to a bigger table we’re ready to order some food. An all-day brunch each for the kids, steak and kidney pudding for me. I like to eat healthily.

Henry tuns up and gets himself a half. He doesn’t stay long. Has something or other to do in connection with his brewery. Just an excuse, I bet. He’s always finding reasons to duck out of things.

“Where do you fancy next, lads?”

“I don’t know, dad.”

“I suppose I’ll have to decide then. The Woolpack it is, then.”

“Isn’t it called the Prince Rupert, now?”

“Not in my head it isn’t, Andrew.”

I’ve always liked the Woolpack. Mostly because it was about the only pub in town to retain its multiroom layout. They’ve since moved the bar and changed the layout a bit, but it still retains the core of its original floor plan.

Alexei is still on the cider. Andrew has moved on to Guinness. Even though both are evil keg, I don’t mind. Happy to let them drink what they like. I, naturally, tread the path of righteousness and have a pint of cask.

Alexei is on his phone. “Mum says can you get her a Radio Times. And some tea.”

“No problem. I need to drop by WH Smiths to buy a Viz, anyway.”

We only stay for the one. We need to get back for our tea. And I plan on visiting Newark’s micropub, Just Beer.

“It’s on Murderer’s Yard.” I tell the kids. Which is true, but I won’t go into the full, sad story. You can read it here.

It’s encouragingly busy in Just Beer. But we can find a seat. The kids have both opted for a Lemon and Lime Cider abomination. I continue to follow the path of cask righteousness.

Alexei’s cider thing is soon almost. “You’ve got a bit of a thirst, Alexei.”

“It’s just like drinking pop.”

I try it. “You’re right. Obviously one aimed at the kiddies.”

The kids are intrigued by the card game being played. “It looks like cribbage to me.”

One of the participants turns around and says: “Yes, that’s right. This is the only place it’s played in Newark.”

Odd that. I always thought of cribbage as one of the standard pub games. I’ve played it plenty of times. Though the exact rules escape me at the moment.

We walk to the bus station via WH Smith. Where I eventually find Viz. As we walk through town there’s more pointing and staring at the boys. Haven’t they seen someone two metres tall before?

There’s another reason, other than our tea, we haven’t left it too late. The last bus is just after six. Britain really is turning to total shit. On the upside, the pound is tanking nicely, which makes everything cheaper for me.

David hasn’t polished off the barrel, as I’d feared. Still plenty of Red Barrel left for me and the kids to tuck into. It’s still drinking very nicely.

After a few pints I get peckish around 9 PM.

“I might go and get myself a pie, Dave.”

“You’d best hurry up, they’ll be closing soon.”

I get to the chippie with the kids just before they close the doors for the night. In addition to my pie, they give us another mountain of chips and a few battered sausages. Which pleases the kids. Somehow we manage to get through it all.

Tomorrow we’ll get to see Henry’s brewery. That’ll be exciting.

The Sir John Arderne
3 Church St,
Newark NG24 1DT.
Tel.: +44 1636 671334

The Prince Rupert
46 Stodman Street,
Newark NG24 1AW.
Tel.: +44 1636 918121

Just Beer Micropub
32A Castle Gate,
Newark NG24 1BG.
Tel.: +44 1636 312047

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Baldo here we come

“Oh that’s good.”

“What is, dad?”

I’m just looking at the departures screen. “Our flight leaves from pier D.”

“What’s so good about that?”

“It’s where the Irish pub is.”

We’ve already picked up sandwiches from La Place using a voucher Andrew got from his work. It took a while for them to accept it. First all the staff behind the counter, then off for a consultation with the manager, before we get the nod.

“How much did it cost, dad?” Alexei asks me.

“Seventeen euros fifty.”

“Is that with or without the fifteen euro voucher?”

“Without. With, just two fifty. It’s still blooming expensive.”

We’re already checked in and have to hold bags so we can waltz straight through to security. It’s always a worry, going up those stairs, wondering how far the queue will stretch back. Though if it’s really bad you can tell before, as it will come all the way down the stairs. Then you know you’re in for a fun two hours of shuffling slowly forward.

We’re in luck. There are only a dozen or so people in front of us. As soon as we get to the front, Andrew starts chatting with the staff. He’s recently started working at security here. It’s slightly strange, him chatting to his colleagues. Not used to the lazy git being gainfully employed rather than stuck behind his computer all day.

They pull my bag out for closer inspection. They always do. I factor that into my timings.

The queue for passport control isn’t too bad, either. Soon we’re home free aiside.

It’s a bit of a walk to pier D. Just as well we’ve left plenty of time. I don’t want to have to rush my pint.

The kids don’t remember the Irish pub.

“You must have been here before.”

“I can’t remember it, Dad.” Says Andrew.

“Strange. I’ve been here loads of times. I recognise all the bar staff.” Which is true. Tells you a lot about how often I’m in Schiphol.

This is going to be an interested trip. It’s the first time he’ll have been in Britain since turning 18. Which could make it an expensive trip for me.

“What do you want, boys?”


“I’ll have a cider, too.”

“I won’t ask if you want a pint. No son of mine is going to drink a half.”

I go for a Murphy’s Stout. And a double Jamesons. It is 5 PM, after all.

Alexei is quickly through his cider. He’s knocked it back like apple juice, which is what he usually drinks.

“Another one, Lexie?”

“Yes, please.”

“I’ll have a Stout, dad” Andrew chips in.

We’re flying with Flybe to Doncaster Sheffield airport. Maybe a little further than East Midlands, but much easier to get to from Newark. Straight up the A1. And it’s nice and small, like East Midlands used to be until they changed it to a seatless shopping centre.

My brother David has arranged a taxi. He told the driver to look out for a fat old bloke and two giant lads. Cheeky git. The kids aren’t really that tall. For Dutch standards. He manages to find us easily enough. It’s a pretty small airport, after all.

Bizarrely, our driver is really into cycling. Despite, er, being built like a taxi driver. It’s hard to imagine him on a bike. He only just about fits in the car. And I say that as a fat old bloke.

We quite handily get to Dave’s just after the chippie next door opens. We get a pie and mushy peas each. And some chips. Unwisely, I order a large bag of chips. They keep shovelling more and more chips onto the pile until there’s a veritable chip mountain*. It must weigh a good two kilos. I’m not joking.

Luckily, there’s some beer to wash it down. A very special beer. My schoolfriend Henry has just opened a brewery in Collingham, a few miles outside Newark. And he’s brought over a firkin of a very special beer. A dead famous beer. Or should I say infamous? It’s 1963 Watney’s Red Barrel. Obviously, from a recipe of mine.

“You won’t be able to get a full pint,” David says, “It’s very heavily conditioned.”

He’s right. But I take his comment as a challenge. With a bit of patience I’m able to get a full glass with a lovely tight collar.

The beer itself is pretty nice. Obviously being cask rather than pasteurised to buggery, it’s not exactly a clone of the original. A good drinking beer. As the kids prove as they knock back pint after pint. No idea where they’ve got that from. Must be their Mum.

We need to get stuck into the firkin. 72 pints, four of us, three days. I make that six pints a day each. Another challenge.

Tomorrow there’s a special treat in store for Lexie: a trip to Wetherspoons. Where he’ll be able to enjoy a pint for the first time.

* The photo is actually of a small bag of chips. I forgot to snap the mountain. It was about three times the size of that.

A 1 Fish Bar
234 London Rd, Balderton,
Newark NG24 3HD.
Tel.: +44 1636 702679

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Don't forget

I'm still trying to flog my new book:

Please buy my new recipe book. It's dead good. And Andrew is about to go to University.


Let’s brew Wednesday - 1918 Barclay Perkins Ale 4d

The next big change in Barclay Perkins wartime Mild Ale was also provoked by a change in the rules.

Average gravity was cut again in early 1918:

April 1 1918: Conditions changed by provision that average gravity of all beer brewed shall not exceed 1030º for great Britain and 1045º for Ireland, and that no beer shall be brewed below 1010º: and prices fixed at 4d. per pint below 1030º, and 5d. per pint for 1030º to 1034º.
Source: "The Brewers' Almanack 1928" pages 100 - 101.

The effect was immediate. X Ale (OG 1046º) and GA (OG 1038º) were both discontinued and replaced by a single new beer, Ale 4d. As the name implies, this fell into the sub 1030º bracket.

They may have dropped the gravity considerably, but the number of ingredients increased. There are now four types of malt: pale, brown amber and crystal. Plus two types of sugar. What I’ve represented as No. 4 invert was “Martineau’s BS” in the original. I assume it’s something similar.

With several dark malts, two types of dark sugar and caramel, unsurprisingly the colour has darkened. Quite possibly to make drinkers think it was stronger than it really was. Though you’d have noticed when, after five or six pints you weren’t getting intoxicated. It must have come as quite a shock to a generation used to Milds over 5% ABV.

Surprisingly, Ale 4d didn’t disappear with the restrictions on brewing. Even when X Ale returned in the summer of 1919, Barclay Perkins continued to brew it. Clearly there was a market for a watery Mild. It finally disappeared in 1943, when the gravity of X Ale had dropped to almost the same level.

1918 Barclay Perkins Ale 4d
pale malt 3.25 lb 58.77%
brown malt 0.33 lb 5.97%
amber malt 0.75 lb 13.56%
crystal malt 60 L 0.33 lb 5.97%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.33 lb 5.97%
No. 4 invert sugar 0.50 lb 9.04%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.04 lb 0.72%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.33 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.33 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.33 oz
OG 1027
FG 1006
ABV 2.78
Apparent attenuation 77.78%
IBU 14
SRM 19
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

This recipe isn't in my new book. But over 200 are:

Please buy my new recipe book. It's dead good. And Andrew is about to go to University.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Buy my book, please

Go on. It's dead good.

Please buy my new recipe book. It's dead good. And Alexei is almost out of vodka.


In case you've forgotten

I've a new book out. Full of that recipey stuff the young 'uns like. But with enough of the talky explainey stuff to interest twats as old as me.

Did I mention Andrew is going to university?

"We don't want to lumber him with a big debt."

"Don't we, Dolores? Rather that that us become paupers."

"What about his future?"

"I'll be dead for most of that. What do I care?"

On that caring note, I'll remind you that you can help my future be slightly less bleak by investing in my dead good book.

Think of the children.


What I drank in my Berlin hotel

Fascinating for you all, I'm sure. But I'm just back from Newark, a bit knacked and feeling lazy.

As with my beer festival sups, Lager predominates. Now I've no time for Bavaria trips, I need to scratch my Lager itch somewhere.

Apologies for the IPA. It must have fallen into my basket accidentally.

Monday, 14 August 2017

We’re on our way home

I awake feeling totally knacked. It takes two cups of tea to get me out of bed. Even after a shower I’m not that lively.

The selection of fried stuff is getting narrower every day. Yesterday there was no bacon. Today there are no meat balls, either. Still plenty of fruit.

As I get tucked into my fruit, I start to speak, but Dolores interrupts me.

“I know, the fruit means you can drink more beer. You say that every morning, Ronald.”

Sorry for being so predictable.

Dolores takes pity on me and lets me lie in bed while she goes off shopping. While she’s gone I get stuck into the remaining beers. Though, come to think of it, I took back quite a few beers from Berlin last year. In fact, it’s only a few weeks ago I drank the last couple of bottles of Maisel & Friends.

She’s gone to the supermarket for some stuff to take home with us. And the second-hand clothes shop she looked around on Saturday. She’s been regretting not buying the dirt-cheap dirndl she spotted. Fingers crossed that it’s still there.

I’m three bottles into my stash when Dolores returns.

She immediately tries to switch channels.

“I was watching that.”

“But it’s rubbish.”

“I know. That’s why I was watching it.”

Die Trovatos, if you’re wondering. Quality stuff that you’ll only find on TV on a weekday morning.

We spend the next hour packing up all our shit, while do my best to reduce the weight of beer I’ll have to carry. Yet does Dolores thank me for my consideration?

Once we’ve checked out and dropped off our luggage, we head over to east of Warschauerstrasse again. It’s surprisingly busy for 12:15 on a Monday. There are quite a few people hanging around the bars and restaurants. Doesn’t anyone have to work around here? Though I wouldn’t personally be sat outside eating on the bits of the street with the bad drain smell. As some are.

Avoiding the stinky parts of the street, we have a quick pre-prandial beer. I’m trying to work out what the place is called. The sign is pretty cryptic:

Can you guess what it’s called? I couldn’t. It’s Plusminusnull. Not sure about that one. I am sure what I’m drinking: a half litre of Staropramen. Never my favourite. In fact the Czech beer I liked the least, back in the good old days.

We were thinking of dining in a Sudanese place. We spotted a couple yesterday. But the first one we come to is pretty small and cramped. So we troll a bit further down the street to a Vietnamese place, bizarrely called Soup & Rolls.

Unfortunately, they’re out of Hanoi beer. So I have to make do with a Saigon.

“Shouldn’t it really be a Ho Chi Minh City beer?”

“Very funny, Ronald.”

We kick off with a spring and a summer roll each. The spring rolls are dead good. The summer rolls not quite as good as on Saturday. My main course, crispy duck on fried noodles, is ace. Even though there’s quite a pile, I shovel it down. Dolores has a beef noodle salad that’s also pretty damn good.

Bags picked up, we face the long trek to Tegel. There are several possible routes, none perfect. The one with the fewest stairs isn’t practical. The M10 tram, as we discovered on Friday, doesn’t run all the way through due to works on the track. So we plump for the U-Bahn/S-Bahn route again. Despite all the stairs.

It’s all going well. Until there’s an announcement saying the train won’t go any further than Wedding, due to a Polizei Einsatz (police operation). Great. I quickly consult the network map. If we take the U6, we can connect with the 128 bus. More stairs. Just what we needed.

We squeeze onto the bus. And have to stand. There’s a bloke sitting nearby with a nose the size, shape and colour of a half-pound strawberry. It waves from side to side every time he moves his head.

We check in dead quickly. It helps that I can use the short queue because of my Sky Elite status.

We’ve still some time. The terminal we’re leaving from is a bit shit. An obviously temporary shed. So best be airside. Inside is pretty grim. Doesn’t look like they’ve changed anything since the 1970’s.

Luckily, there’s a little pub just outside our terminal. In an old S-Bahn carriage. I get myself a Kindl Jubiläums Pils. It isn’t great. But it is wet.

Our flight starts boarding early. And is ready to leave early. But we have to wait for 30 minutes for a air traffic control slot.

It is cheese in the sandwich on the way back. It looks just like the egg one. As is traditional, I wash it down with red wine.

The house is still in one piece. Unlike my Guinness. Alexei has drunk a couple of bottles. It could have been worse. He could have got stuck my Abt stash.

Plusminusnull (+-0)
Grünberger Str. 61,
10245 Berlin
+49 30 21239624

Soup & Rolls
Kopernikusstraße 11,
10243 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 80923253

EsS-Bahn Imbiss
Tunnel Flughafen Tegel,
13405 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 41014441

Sunday, 13 August 2017

In case you missed it

My new recipe book is out, packed full of, er, stuff. Loads of new recipes, including ones from North America and some Lagers. Quite a few Lagers, actually. And lots of other random shit.

You should know me by now. What interests me. Which is everything beer-realted. Just about.

Just back from Newark. Visiting family and my mate Henry from school. Who's just started a brewery*. The fact that he dropped off a firkin of Red Barrel at my brother's for my stay has had absoulutely no influence on my opinion of his beer.

It was a bit like a challenge. Or at least that's how I saw it. 72 pints, four blokes, three nights. Should be a piece of piss. Just six pints a day each. I'd tell you how it ended - were the kids up to it? And the insanity chile story. That's another good one.

But you'll have to wait for that. I'm trying to flog my new book:

Any guesses as to who's the handsome man on the cover?

Please buy my new recipe book. It's dead good. And Andrew is about to go to University.


 * Cat asylum, in Collingham, Nottinghamshire. He hasn't got a website yet. But it did look this afternoon as if I might be able to persuade him to install a dropping system. Or was that Red Barrel I'd had for brunch clouding my judgement? In case you're wondering: surprisingly unshit. The Red Barrel. Not that I doubt Henry's brewing skills. More the recipe. It is an evil keg one, after all. The archetypal evil keg.

Last day at the Berliner Biermeile

The day begins with the same routine. A cup of tea in bed, then downstairs to perform some fast breaking.

Once again, I’m partially health conscious, eating a bowl of melon.

“After that, I deserve an extra couple of beers.”

“You said that yesterday.”

“And it was true, wasn’t it?”

“You always drink extra beers.”

“What made you so cynical?”

“Growing up in the DDR. Have you forgotten that already?”

Dolores has read that there’s a Sunday market just over the other side of Warschauerstrasse she fancies taking a look at. No probs. Always good to have an excuse to check out a new bit of the city.

We realise that the other side of Warschauerstrasse is much more exciting. Lots of little ethnic restaurants, lots of cocktail bars. And several bakeries which are even open today, Sunday. Everyone seems to be having brunch in the sun. The tattoo and beard count is extremely high. Bloody yuppies. Sorry, hipsters. The world has moved on.

We have a quick look around the market, where all sorts of second-hand junk is being sold. A bit like Koningsdag in Amsterdam, but less mobbed. Not that we intend buying anything. Not sure we could fit a record player of a sideboard in our luggage.

Browsing done, we make for Frankfurter Tor. Where the Biermeile starts. Being Sunday and only just about noon, it’s not that crowded. But, judging by the rate punters are arriving, it won’t be long before it starts filling up. Best drink quickly, then.

Schinner Braunbier (5.4% ABV)
Definitely is brown. Malty, slightly bitter. Quite caramelly. Not bad, but a bit odd.

Talking of punters, there’s a much higher pensioner count here than most beer festivals. It’s quite sweet seeing an old bloke buzzing around in his electric wheelchair while drinking. Is that legal? The crowd is really just a complete cross-section of society. Young and old, and all the stages inbetween. Rich and poor. German and foreign. Drunk and well on the way to being drunk. Sadly I’m not yet in either of those two categories.

I see there’s a Czech brewery over the way. I’m not really into excessive walking today so something from there will do. Despite the sexist pump clips.

Pivovar Millénium Drsňák (12º Plato, 4.9% ABV)
I have fun trying to order this one by name. Czech loves starting words with multiple consonants. Zmrzlina – Czech for ice cream – is a good example. Then there are the words with no vowels. Is that even legal? An amber Lager. Or polotmavé, as the Czechs say. Slightly sweet, but a bit bland. A bit of nice hop bitterness right at the end.

Another sign this isn’t a geek fest: I’m the only one taking photos of my beer. And making tasting notes, however brief and shitty they might be. What’s wrong with everyone?

We start walking further down the festival, with me looking for something I fancy. Which turns out to be something German.

Zwönitzer Stout 5.1% ABV
Dead black. Roasty and with perhaps a touch of lactic. There’s a pleasant underlying maltiness. Not bad.

By the way, I’m drinking half litres of everything. If they sell them. I hate pissing around with small measures. They mean too much walking and queueing up at bars and not enough drinking. I’ve come to drink beer, not take exercise.

I just can’t resist a classic Czech beer when I spot the Pardubický stand.

Pardubický Porter (19º Plato, 8% ABV)
Great to be able to drink this again. Nice and dark, tan head. Caramel, malt, chocolate with just enough bitterness at the end. A great session Porter.

“This used to be the strongest beer brewed in Czechoslovakia” I tell a not particularly interested Dolores, “Not that I ever saw it, mind.”

Falkenštejn Tmavý Speciál (14º Plato, 5.4% ABV)
Served in a nonic, for some reason. Very roasty. That’s interesting.

Just time for one more beer. Another Czech one.

Kout na Šumavě 12ºIt’s still lovely.

We leave just after two, when it’s already starting to get a bit busy. I’ve an appointment, anyway. At Vagabund, over on the scary side of the city. I always feel oddly uneasy when in West Berlin. Never quite worked out why.

I’ve been invited over by Vagabund’s American brewer, Erik Mell. He asked me if I’d like to come over and try his Broyhan. Only ever going to be one answer to that question.

The Broyhan is darker than I expected. Very dry, with no sourness. Though that seems to have been optional, depending on time and location.

Andreas Krennmair arrives. I told him yesterday we’d be trying the Broyhan. He didn’t want to miss out, either. We get a quick tour of the tiny brewery. The kit is just 50 litres. I have, literally, seen bigger homebrew setups. A British guy about my age who was sitting in the bar tags along with us. He seems quite happy to get a look inside the brewery.

We have a couple more beers and then head back to the U-Bahn. But we aren’t going home just yet. It’s after 6 PM. Which means Augustiner will be serving cask. Not going to miss out on that as god knows when I’ll be in Bavaria again.

We take a seat inside. I ask what’s on cask. It’s Edelstoff.

“I’ll have one of those then.”

“Do you want a large or a small one, sir?”

“I’ll have a big one, please.”

“You do realise that means a litre, Ronald?”

“No, I didn’t. But I’ll have one, anyway.”

I order a couple of sausages, potato salad and cabbage to go with it. I start to speak as I tuck not the cabbage, but before I can get very far Dolores says “Don’t start with that being able to drink extra beer crap again.”

The Edelstoff is wonderful. I’m not a huge fan of litre glasses. They usually slow me down. Not this time. I polish off half in just three gulps.

“Thirsty today are we, Ronald?”

As I’m shovelling down my food Dolores spots something. “Look behind you.” Blow me. It’s a Buddhist monk having a meal. I suppose they have to eat like everyone else.

When we get back to our hotel Dolores says: “Look at all that beer. You’re never going to get through it all before we leave.”

“That sounds like a challenge to me.” I say as I reach for my bottle opener.

Schinner Bürgerbräu Bayreuth
Richard-Wagner-Str. 38,
95444 Bayreuth.
Tel: +49 921 79780

Pivovar Millénium
Sibiřská 55,
400 01 Ústí nad Labem-Neštěmice,
Tel.: +420 606 645 203

Brauerei Gasthof Zwoenitz
Grünhainer Straße 15,
08297 Zwönitz/Erzgebirge.
Tel.: 037754 59905

Pardubický Pivovar
Palackého třída 250,
530 33 Pardubice.

Pivovar Falkenštejn
Křinické nám. 7/12,
407 46 Krásná Lípa.
Tel.: +420 478 048 673

Antwerpener Str. 3
13353 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 5266 7668

Charlottenstraße 55,
10117 Berlin.
Tel.: +49 30 20454020